ANANTA RAJ LUITEL
KATHMANDU: Winning the battle for information after after months, The Himalayan Times today obtained reports from the Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi headed Judicial Council (JC), leading the judges’ appointment body towards becoming more transparent.
JC Secretary Jiwan Hari Adhikary today decided to provide three major reports related to removal of former SC justices Paramananda Jha (now Vice President), Krishna Kumar Verma and Baliram Kumar and the dismissal of district court judge Gopal Prasad Guragain in response to a petition filed by this correspondent.
Based on the probe committee reports, the apex court judges were forced to resign and Guragain was sacked. “You win the battle and our reports are ultimately within the reach of the public,” Jiwan Hari Adhikary said while handing over the reports. This was the first time that the JC provided information to the public.
The National Information Commission (NIC) stood behind THT in the battle and compelled the JC to give information only after NIC convicted its Secretary Adhikary and imposed a fine of Re 1 on him.
Chief Justice Regmi assured this correspondent on Friday that the JC wants to begin the practice of being transparent gradually. Of the reports obtained by THT, a three-member committee comprising CJ Regmi and former CJs Ram Prasad Shrestha and Anup Raj Sharma had investigated Jha’s involvement in releasing drug peddler Dil Bahadur Gurung improperly.
Even though the committee submitted the report to the JC on November 13, 2005, Jha did not resign but accepted demotion as chief judge at appellate court. In 2004, another three-member panel had investigated the judicial authority misused by justices Verma and Kumar in improperly releasing international drug peddler Gorden William Robinson, while Krishna Jung Rayamajhi had probed into the bribery of then Lalitpur District Judge Gopal Prasad Guragain in a murder case.
The JC even did not give the reports to the concerned judges when they had demanded them. When the JC declined to provide the reports, this correspondent had filed a petition at NIC on December 9 and it had slapped Re 1 fine on Adhikary on April 3 for denying information and not respecting its order to clarify why he did not provide the information.
“This is good, but the JC must give complete information as demanded. There is no institution above the law,” Binaya Kumar Kasajoo, Chief Information Commissioner said. “Everybody should feel that every authority must respect the law,” Kasajoo added.
Citing the Right to Information Act (RTI), which came into effect in 2007, this correspondent had demanded information from the JC on the probe committee reports against Supreme Court, Appellate Court and District Court Judges as per Article 27 of the Interim Constitution and Section 3 of the Right to Information Act, 2007.
“This is a positive move in the RTI sector,” opined Shiva Gaunle, President of Federation of Nepali Journalists. “Information related to action against judges is not secret, therefore the stance of the JC was wrong,” he added.